Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My grandmother, the wise woman

My grandmother married Grandpa in 1925. I have a copy of the original newspaper announcement: "Miss Winans marries West Point man" -- with a photo of the happy couple, leaving the West Point chapel after their wedding.

Grandma was a special woman. She worked for Pictorial Review before her wedding, and sporadically thereafter. She was published in several magazines, sometimes using a pen name that she considered more romantic. In fact, though she was born Helen, at some point, she changed her name to Helene -- because she thought it was more romantic. However, Grandpa called her Pinky, for reasons totally unknown to us. In return, when I found them on the 1930 census, she listed Grandpa's name as Arthur -- though this was not in any way his name. Maybe she thought Arthur was more romantic, or maybe in 1930 she called herself Guinevere, I don't know.

Grandma was a tiny woman who loved antiques, especially dolls and dollhouses, and accumulated quite a collection over the years. She had a lovely English garden, liked an after dark dip in the pool, and had a French poodle named Francoise. I always thought she looked like Helen Hayes.

The last time I saw her, she was 95 years old, and living in a nursing home. She was no longer as sharp as she once was, and in fact, spent our visit admiring our then toddlers and singing to us. My husband had not met her before (we lived 600+ miles away). He knelt in front of her, took her hand, and lovingly said "Grandma, I married your granddaughter."

Grandma took my hand, leaned toward me and said, "you poor thing!"

It was a priceless moment that still makes me smile, to this day.